Women appear to have a natural defence against the world's most common
sexually transmitted infection, a new study says.
This natural protective barrier consists mainly of lactic acid bacteria -
The discovery could lead to new treatments for "trich," which affects an
estimated 174 million women and men around the world each year, according to a
journal news release.
Trich is caused by the parasite Trichomonas vaginalis or T.
vaginalis. Symptoms of the infection include pain, irritation and
discharge. About 50% of all people who have this condition, however, don't
develop symptoms and are unaware that they are infected.
Researchers Augusto Simoes-Barbosa, of the University of Auckland in New
Zealand, and colleagues examined how easily three different strains of T.
vaginalis bound to vaginal cells. They repeated the process when nine
different types of lactobacilli were also present.
In the vast majority of instances, lactobacilli prevented the
parasite from binding to the cells. Some types of lactobacilli were
better at preventing the parasite from binding to the cells than others, the
study authors pointed out.
"This study reinforces the important role that our microbiomes play in
health, infection and disease," they wrote. "Understanding the role that
Lactobacillus plays in T. vaginalis infection/disease might
reveal new therapeutic approaches, which include taking advantage of the natural
probiotic activity of lactobacilli."
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about trich infections.